TV's Holy Mess

Article excerpt

Hollywood insiders say ABC's religious drama Nothing Sacred

may have hit its finest hour with an episode titled "HIV Priest:

News at 11!" But barring a miracle, it's an hour you'll never see.

ABC and parent company Disney have repeatedly postponed

the episode, in which Father Ray (Kevin Anderson) struggles to

dissuade a friend from leaving the priesthood because he's gay

and has AIDS. In an angry January 9 interview with the Los

Angeles Times, Nothing Sacred's creators accused ABC and

Disney of burying "HIV Priest" to placate such enemies as the

Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, which last year

almost crippled the series with a boycott. ABC admits only that

"HIV Priest" hasn't been scheduled yet. (The network declined

to comment for this article.) What's really going on? Nothing

Sacred writer and executive story editor Jan Oxenberg, who is

lesbian, gave The Buzz an exclusive look behind the scenes.

Did ABC give you permission to shout "HIV Priest"?

ABC approved it from the beginning. It was

to be the first episode after the pilot. Then the

Catholic groups started their boycott, and advertisers

began pulling out of the show. Under that pressure

ABC said, "We're postponing [the AIDS episode]."

We had already shot it. The decision was made at the

last minute.

They postponed the episode more than once?

They decided not to show it as the very first episode. Then it

was going to be one of the first six. Then it was going to be one

of the first 12. Now it's completely up in the air.

Are most Catholics opposed to Nothing Sacred?

Many Catholic publications have come out in favor of the show. About

135 Catholic clergy signed an ad run by People for the American

Way. The archbishop of Los Angeles made a statement of

support. ABC ran full-page ads in national newspapers with

quotes from Catholic leaders.

With such support, why hasn't the AIDS episode aired by now? …